The Paradigm Initiatives of Nigeria (PIN) on Tuesday called for the digital inclusion of marginalised communities in Africa as the world celebrates the International Day of Education.
This is contained in a statement signed by PIN Communications Officer Valery Njiaba to mark the International Day of Education (IDE) with the theme: ‘Recover and Revitalise Education for the COVID-19 Generation’.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that IDE was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in recognition of the importance of education as well as the need to ensure everyone has equitable quality education at all levels.
It further recorgnises the need for access to lifelong learning opportunities that will help them acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to access opportunities, participate fully and contribute meaningfully to the sustainable development of society.
Njiaba said that in the United Nations’ Policy Brief, Education during COVID-19 and beyond, the United Nations highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic had caused the largest disruption of education in history.
She said that the pandemic already had a near-universal impact on learners and teachers around the world, from pre-primary to secondary schools, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, universities, adult learning, and skills development establishments.
The communication officer said that the closures of schools and other educational institutions were hampering the provision of essential services to children and communities.
According to her,the Policy Brief also states that distance learning in high-income countries covers about 80 per cent to 85 per cent, and drops to less than 50 per cent in low-income countries which shortfall can largely be attributed to the digital divide.
Njiaba said that the disadvantaged had limited access to basic household services such as electricity, a lack of technology infrastructure, and low levels of digital literacy among students, parents, and teachers.
‘’The answer to resolving the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education includes access to the internet and technology.
‘’During this time, PIN calls for the African States to adhere to Principle 37 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression And Access to Information in Africa.
‘It is by adopting laws, policies, and other measures to promote affordable access to the internet for children that equip them with digital literacy skills for online education and safety.”
She said that PIN further urges States to enhance access to education by removing technological barriers and investing in digital infrastructure.
Njiaba, however, stressed that PIN reminds all African States that education is a fundamental right that enables the enjoyment of other rights such as human dignity, health, and labour.
The communication officer said as such, ensuring access to education for all is most pertinent.
‘’As PIN commemorates this day, it continues to bridge the digital divide through its Life Skills, ICTs, Financial Literacy, and Entrepreneurship (LIFE) training programme for underserved youths.” (NAN)